Oscar Preview – Best Actress/Best Supporting Actress

28 Feb

A rundown of the distaff nominees. I’ll post some general observations/witticisms tomorrow before the ceremony.

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett (Carol)

One of the premier actresses working, this nomination may be one of those “I didn’t see the movie, but Cate Blanchett is always great” nominations that have been discussed recently, in light of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. Blanchett is good as the society woman torn between the conventions of propriety and her sexual inclinations, but she’s always so good that this didn’t strike me as anything special. Still, I don’t have a particular problem with the nomination.

Brie Larson (Room)

If Leonardo DiCaprio is this year’s surest bet, Brie Larson is probably a close #2. With a turn-on-a-dime performance as a woman who is well and truly a victim but who is trying to make the best of things for her son, Larson’s performance should elevate her to the first ranks of young actresses.

Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)

Same evaluation as Cate Blanchett above, although I have more of a problem with this nomination. I just wasn’t overly impressed by either Joy the movie or Joy the character, as embodied by Jennifer Lawrence. A meh performance in a meh movie.

Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

Rampling is a veteran actress giving an understated performance in a little-seen movie. It didn’t do much for me. I would have been happy with Charlize Theron for Mad Max, even though I didn’t care much for the movie.

Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

I actually liked Ronan’s performance better than Brie Larson’s. Her Eilis was quieter and less showy than Larson’s Ma, but went through a wider range of emotions. Of course, the flatness was a part of Larson’s character’s circumstance, but I was just drawn more to Eilis. Like Larson, Ronan will be a name we’ll be seeing quite often in nomination lists.

My Pick: Saoirse Ronan (Seer-sha, for those pronouncing at home)

My Prediction: Brie Larson

Best Supporting Actress

JENNIFER JASON LEIGH (The Hateful Eight)

IMO, the worst nomination of the 20 actors. Leigh’s Domergue served primarily as the recipient of a whole lot of cartoon violence and a whole lot of misogyny, and I didn’t see the performance particularly rise above it. This nomination should have gone to Tessa Thompson for Creed.

ROONEY MARA (Carol)

Category Fraud, case 1: Carol is a lesbian romance, and Rooney Mara’s Therese is an equal partner to Cate Blanchett’s Carol. But someone figured that nominating both as leads would split votes, so the non-title character is considered supporting. Regardless, Mara does fine work as a 1950s shopgirl exploring a new aspect to her sexuality.

RACHEL MCADAMS (Spotlight)

The temptation is to say that as the only woman in a cast full of guys, McAdams holds her own with the big boys. That sounds sexist, but it’s kind of true. McAdams does just fine here, but honestly, this nomination and Mark Ruffalo’s on the male side seem almost like “Well, if Spotlight is a Best Picture nominee, there have to be some actors nominated”. This could have gone to someone else pretty easily.

ALICIA VIKANDER (The Danish Girl)

Right nomination, wrong movie. Category Fraud, case 2: Vikander was the female lead in The Danish Girl. In fact, technically, she is the Danish Girl. At least, she’s the one being referred to when the phrase is spoken in the film. She should have been nominated for Ex Machina where, again, the role was the female lead, but the case could be made that the two leads were the male characters and she was support. She’s having a really good year (despite The Man from UNCLE tanking), and I think she’ll win.

KATE WINSLET (Steve Jobs)

Another “Actor x is in a movie I haven’t seen, but they’re always good” nomination. Kate Winslet was the best thing about the movie, but that’s not saying a whole lot.

My Pick: Alicia Vikander for Ex Machina

My Prediction: Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl

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